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Gingrich Considering Two Options On Fine Payment

He won't pay the entire sum all at once

By Bob Franken and Charles Bierbauer/CNN


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich is considering two different plans for paying his $300,000 fine for ethics violations, sources tell CNN.

Under the first scenario, Gingrich would put up $50,000 in personal funds and set up a legal defense fund to solicit contributions to pay the remaining $250,000.

The second plan under consideration also calls for Gingrich to put up $50,000 in personal funds, and then take out a loan -- perhaps from his remaining campaign funds -- to pay the rest, sources say.

Those same sources tell CNN that Gingrich is expected to formally announce his decision today or Thursday -- and wants to make the announcement sooner rather than later. Before he makes his final decision, they say, the House speaker wants to consult with the House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Utah).

Gingrich attended a House Republican Conference meeting this morning, where he told his fellow Republican legislators that he has not yet reached a decision on how to pay the $300,000 assessment levied against him by the House ethics committee.

One source indicated the speaker spoke only briefly -- about 90 seconds -- in regard to his fine during the regularly scheduled meeting. He indicated he would inform his Republican colleagues before announcing the decision.

Gingrich met with close advisors in his Capitol office for more than two hours last night to formulate an agenda he can pursue to re-establish his leadership of the House once he's decided to pay the ethics penalty.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) was present for part of that meeting, sources say. Also present were Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn), former Gingrich spokesman Tony Blankley, GOP consultant Mari Will, Republican National Committee Adviser Rich Galen, and former Reps. Vin Weber and Bob Walker.

The House ethics committee in January recommended that Gingrich be reprimanded and be required to pay a $300,000 penalty after concluding he broke the rules of the House in his teaching of a college course funded by tax-exempt organizations. Gingrich was also criticized for providing incorrect statements to the committee, though members disagreed whether that misinformation was intentional.

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